Monday, August 27, 2012

When I tried to sleep

Turning and tossing and trying to sleep
In a bid to fight the night and the  mind
I dream I’m Colonel Aureliano Buendia
Weaving tiny gold fishes
But the only thing that glitters tonight
Is the sweat on my roommate’s bare black body
As he dreams about joyrides on his bullet
In the big broad Banjara Hills road.
The bright blue strip of pink  paracetamols
Tempts me but I dream of Dostoevsky
And decide to write one more poem.

The Night without a Dawn

Flowers in the fort of faith withered
Reeking of a renegade’s resistance.
And slimy sweat of a traitor of trust.
It rained blood that night
Soaking everyone in a sadness of shame
And as the sky turned crimson the next morning
All that everyone did was collect blood crumbs
Thinking of the days gone by
And trying with all their might
Not to think of the days to come.

Far from the madding crowd

Far from the madding crowd
Is such a notorious notion
I think that man with that coolass name
Thomas Hardy, as if he’s some boxer
Who’d bite off Tyson’s left ear
Like it was a slice of half-cooked Roti
That they serve in our messy mess
Every morning, every night
Except for Saturday afternoons
When they make Khichri
Was drunk on rotten rum
When he wrote the fucking phrase.

Lines of Loss

When all that you care for is the next step
But all you can feel is the fan above
Revolving in contempt of all that you can’t
As if scouting for the angle that makes you seem
Worse than a penniless father in a brothel
The tragedy seems more profound than ever
Like being stranded in the middle
Of the Brahmaputra
And the hand you’re seeking
Is in somebody else’s;
Crimson in the watery final sunset.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tales from Wasseypur: A land where Coppola’s Sicily meets Sippy’s Sholay

Electronica .
Superimpose into relentless Kalashnikovs.
Tap your feet to unyielding triggers
In the haze of chillum smoke.
Trip on killing.
Dream of ruling.

Bachchhan Amitabh. That’s what coal-mafioso turned politician Ramadheer Singh calls Indian cinema's angry young man turned officially the most versatile range of products’ endorser, in a scene a few frames into the second half of Gangs of Wasseypur-2; and unabashedly slams him and Salman Khan for making the youth believe in the hero with only muscles and no brains. Cinema or rather the cognizant lack of it, he claims,  has what made him what he is—the only man in a town so full of daredevil boys who die older than Hendrix and Morrison, but  much younger than Dev Anand, the evergreen hero all the women would dig when he was in school. Maybe Kashap’s a big Bacchan fan and secretly admires Salman too—the latter earned his less illustrious brother Abhinav, with Dabbang, at one go what Anurag hasn’t earned from all his movies, in spite of all the Cannes romping that he gets to do with arm-candy cum wife Kalki for his ‘world cinema'—for Kashyap takes copious liberties to affect what my high school English teacher would call poetic justice at the end of it all. Yes, at the end of it when Anuraag Kasyap and Zeeshan Quadri finally decide to end their colourfully dark trip of  self-indulgence.

Tum paas aayen, Tum paas aayen
Yun Muskurayen, Tum ne na jane kya kiya
Sapne  dekhaye, Aabto mera dil
Jaane ka sota hai, Kya karoon haye
Kuch kuch hota hai.

And just in the next shot, the delicious Huma Quereshi croons to her Bacchan worshiping husband—in her even-more delicious Bihari accent—languishing  in jail, exercising his hands to her amorous  memory. To raise his spirits and libido, of course. And who comes through eventually—the Bollywood batter or the Bollywood believer—is again carefully camouflaged by a twist that seeks to maintain the best part of this extended LSD trip viewed through the consciousness of heartland India—neutrality. The impish hide and seek Kashyap indulges and to his credit, engages in is the story within the story. And is perhaps one of those rare occasions, when the sub-text is more gripping than the actual text itself.

Summer of 2012.
De Sica, Amitabh, Anurag.
Who’s behind whom?
There’s still time for it.
Apocalypse that is.

Zeeshan Quadari is a good story-teller but he’s a young man who has a lot to learn still. And the story, though gripping, is at all times set for its predictable end by the virtue of it being a story that thrives on revenge as the backbone  and not as some people would unfairly and high-handedly claim, its Bollywood affiliation.  And after all it is the battle within the battle  we’re interested in—amidst Wasseypur’s maddening gun-powder heavy power tussle and Hema Quereshi’s ( I just can’t get over her) knee-weakening  moves, it’s Anurag Kashap’s personal battle that’s the most engrossing. From Saharanpur’s small town sensibilities to Sica’s sleek storytelling shades, here’s a man who’s seen and felt a lot. He’s tripped on stuff, which if my mother ever came to know of, she’d forbid me from watching his cinema anymore. On one hand, he’s trying to make ground breaking, epoch making and all that can be made and broken cinema, and yet on the other, he is very Bollywood at heart. Grown up on Bachchan, fed on Dev Anand’s eccentricities. The result—charming chaos. Breaks and makes a lot of things. Stereotypes and your heart, at times too.

Tiger on the bed
Tiger in the streets.
A blue lungi.
With and without.

Faizal Khan is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Nawazuddin  Siddiqui is Faizal Khan. Because, no could else could possibly be either-- good with the gun in his hand and in his groin. He’s in equal measure dedicated to his chillum as he is to his wife. He’s the Bollywood hero. He’s the Bollywood villain.  He’s believable.  And more importantly, brutally brilliant. Most of the one-fifty minutes of Gangs Of Wasseypur-2, Faizal Khan is as sure about himself as an IITian would be of his calculus, but in a beautifully crafted  moment of vulnerability, when Huma (yes, again her) playfully mocks him about his ageing looks.  He tries hard to be that trigger happy hood that he is, but being rebuffed, even though just good-humoredly, by the love of his life brings out in him a rare moment of weakness that subtly stamps Kashyap’s class and Siddiqui’s dexterity. All over again.

Bombs of Benares
Detonating in Wasseypur
Bombs of passion and power
Bonbs of jokes and japes
Bombs that spill blood
Bombs that sieve blood
Bombs of truth
Bombs of time.
Bombs that are not bombs at all.

As Marquez once said of his  morbidly magnificent Hundred Years of Solitude, there’s hardly anything very serious about the seemingly epic in themselves characters of his story; he was merely making jibes at eccentricities of people and places around him. Kashyap may or may not have read Marquez, but he’s enjoying one hearty laugh just as Marquez must have had when conjuring Macondo’s romantic geographical obscurity, when in the deftly drafted murder of a certain important character, the murderer, before drilling a magazine into him asks him (the character) an address in Varanasi.  Varanasi, for the record, is Wasseypur in Gangs of Wasseypur-2.

To begin I need an inspiration
And some madness.
To end is but an art.
I need sanity.
And strength
To feel the new life.

To achieve a climax that is climatic enough in a story that is pulsating with climaxes of sub plots all the time sometimes means to shunt out the crest and troughs of the plot altogether, and sadly and unknowingly let drabness drip into a narrative so full of life just at its end and sadly shut out on all the goodness of a story that was told so well for all its life. Gangs of Wasseypur, though, is fortunately a story that ends well. The juxtaposition of the bigger plot and the smaller plots is smooth. Sultan Quereshi is killed in the wake of an almost funny albeit planned move. Revenge is played out pompously. Not just Sardar Khan and Faizal Khan’s on Ramadheer Singh, but of Anurag Kashyap’s and Zeeshan Quadri’s  on their cinematographic heroes and influences and at the same time contraints. Deewar and The Bicyle Thief both win.  Zeeshan lets the world know, he’s in the man in control.  As Definite, on screen and as a self-assured writer who ends his magnum opus with a smug smirk, off it. Heartening, for finally a writer gets to be the last man standing. Quite literally.

For those gorgeous goggles,
That hide what could kill.
For that sheepish smile
That would move a hill.
For those colourful kaftans
That would light up the dullest mill
For that voice which sings
Frustriao nahi, nervesou nahi.

For Huma Quereshi, of course--the bold and the beautiful . And yes, the balance has been restored once again. She’s a Quereshi you see.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Recently, a circular passed by the headquarters of the Assam Police instructed a complete face-lift of the force. In police stations statewide, photos of Mahatma Gandhi and his likes were to be replaced by ones of David Beckham and Chace Crawford of Gossip Girl fame (My sources tell me special screenings of Gossip Girl and Will and Grace have also been arranged by the force too for its personnel), armouries were to be converted to fairness cream industries and beauty product factories. And the most important of all—bangles were to be a mandatory accessory for everyone from the rank of constable to the DGP himself.   All for a good cause, of course. The force  is determined to have an image make-over—after all the bloodshed of the 80s and the 90s, the police and the government think it’s important to present a more mellowed-down, easy going, in-tune with the times  Assam police.  Besides, the force deserves some rest now—it’s been a tough three decades for them with all the insurgency and the secret-killings and what not.

And boy! Haven’t the cops responded well to the clarion call made by their bosses? They have become utterly non-interfering, keep to their own business; let Guwahati’s ever-increasing traffic and people on their own and, for the greater good of public welfare, accept token gifts like a ten rupee-note from the truck drivers. And what a convenient arrangement it is—the one of live and let live. So what if a teenage girl is molested and abused by a mob of  third-odd depraved and desperate bravehearts in the swanky centre of the city, the CM is so proud of! The girl was inebriated, had loose morals—she deserved to be beaten and stripped naked on the main street of the city. Absolutely, Sir! Ditto with the Congress MLA who dared to bring shame to her party and a state as honourable as Assam where evils like corruption and red-tapism are as rare as birds in the Deepor beel. By becoming a people’s representative, she has voluntarily given up her personal life and it was completely correct that she was taught a lesson by a group of moralist and hurt young men who took it on themselves to salvage and safeguard  the old glory of Xunor Axom.  Hardly matters that they barged into her hotel room and kicked her around with the panache of Ronaldo. It was after all, again, for a good cause as reiterated by many concerned citizens of the state in their patriotic responses to blasphemous stories in the national media about her being given a raw deal. And in all of the action, the state police has religiously followed its new-found manta of not acting spoilsport and letting the fun go uninterrupted for the greater cause of the Great Axomia Entertaintment, to be broadcasted and rebroadcasted by our favourite news channel (‘Pushing North-East 24/7’) with soaring TRPs that would put a shame on the IPL . Kudos Assam Police!

What a time it is for the state! The political and economic landscape, the world over, is at the fragile worst but Axom is at its stable best- we have, after all, a government (mind you, not one of those precariously poised coalitions) in its third term and looking good for many more. There is no opposition, there are no issues; how Sonia Gandhi would have wished the whole of the political scene of the country would have been like our state and she could have even instated Robert Vadra as the president.  And law and order –where do you get such a liberal and understanding police force which lets you kick, strip, grope and  perform all  of our sadomasochistic fantasies on women in public.  Pure unadulterated fun, dude! 

The Assam Police is trying desperately hard to come across a friendly force with the most minimum meddling in public affairs.  The people, understandably, are more than happy. We’re on our way to becoming a metropolis and we’ve even started to draw inspiration, in behavior and demeanour, from our more cultured contemporaries of the capital—tribals from our neighbour states are a bad influence on our young generation. Very fittingly, a Naga girl who was asking directions was beaten up (again, one of our favourite news channels was there capturing it all live just for us) in broad daylight. This time though, the women under the leadership vice-president of the BJP's city district unit took it upon themselves to teach the deviant girl a lesson on morality. It is of course, a different story altogether that we tirade against rapes of northeastern women in Delhi at Jantar Mantar and accuse mainland India of being discriminatory against our women. They are our women—we can do whatever the  freaking heck we want to—but not the prejudiced North Indians. And when a few years back, a young Adivasi woman was stripped naked in public for having the audacity to come out of the tea garden and protest in our civilized city, I wonder if the  horde doing the honours had the state’s favoutite balladeer’s words—Manuhe manuhor babe Jodi he okonu nabhabe—in mind.  Meanwhile, I’ve to go; there’s something interesting on our channel about a girl being beaten black and blue—she was caught holding hands with a boy, of course! I hear someone quipping—Sluts the girls of this generation, ought to be taught a good lesson!